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Rugby | SA Rugby

Bulls snap up Bok halfback

The Vodacom Bulls have snapped up the valuable signature of Springbok Piet van Zyl for the next two seasons from the Free State.

After losing out on signing Boks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts, the news that Van Zyl is headed to Loftus Versfeld will be very well received considering the player exodus that is currently happening at the union.

It also signalled the Bulls' intent to bring in a number of top players ahead of next year’s Vodacom Super Rugby season as they look to rebuild for a second time since the 2011 World Cup.

Van Zyl’s move is interesting, as it will cover the gap left by Jano Vermaak and put him in direct competition with Francois Hougaard.

However, Hougaard is apparently contemplating more time on the wing in both Bulls and Bok colours and has apparently dropped his objection to playing anywhere but nine.

So the rotation system that worked so well between Vermaak and Hougaard is set to continue in a new guise next year, with Van Zyl looking to a more permanent spot in the Springbok line-up after making his Bok debut this year.

Van Zyl will join the Bulls once the Absa Currie Cup is finished.

“The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce that Piet van Zyl has agreed terms and will join the Vodacom Bulls on a two year contract from November 1st, 2013,” a Bulls statement said.

“The Pretoria-born 23 year old scrumhalf made his Springbok debut in 2013 following some very good performances for his Super Rugby franchise, the Toyota Cheetahs.”

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke welcomed the news.

“Piet is an exciting youngster who brings a lot of energy and commitment to the field. His style of play will suit us and I am convinced that he will blossom in our playing style and structure. We have lost one Springbok in Jano Vermaak, so to replace him by another in Piet is fantastic for our depth,” Ludeke said.

BBC High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg confirmed the deal.

“Piet will still play for the Toyota Free State in Currie Cup, but will join us on November 1st on a two-year deal until 31 October 2015. We are very pleased to secure his services as he is one of the most promising and exciting young halfbacks in the country.”

Meanwhile the Bulls said farewell to several Boks who will be leaving them for overseas clubs this week as the mass exodus continues at Loftus.

“We would like to wish them well in the next chapter of their new careers,” Blue Bulls Company CEO Barend van Graan said on Tuesday.

“These players all became Springboks at the Vodacom Blue Bulls, which speaks volumes of how much impact they had in our structures and teams. Many of them also represented us at schoolboy level for the first time and have been true servants to the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Vodacom Bulls cause. We could like to salute their effort and say thank you.”

The departing players are:

• Juandre Kruger (11 tests, 0 points; 31 Super Rugby caps, 5 points, 40 provincial caps,40 points) to Racing Metro, France
• Jacques Potgieter (3 tests, 0 points; 23 Super Rugby caps, 20 points; 28 provincial matches, 45 points) to Fukuoka Sanix Blues, Japan
• Dewald Potgieter (6 tests, 5 points; 67 Super Rugby caps, 20 points; 58 provincial matches, 50 points) to Yamaha RFC, Japan
• Chiliboy Ralepelle (21 tests, 5 points; 69 Super Rugby caps, 20 points; 26 provincial matches, 20 points) to Toulouse, France
• Jano Vermaak (1 test, 0 points; 104 Super Rugby caps, 97 points; 89 provincial matches, 143 points) to Toulouse, France
• Morne Steyn (45 tests, 530 points; 123 Super Rugby caps, 1449 points; 95 provincial matches, 806 points) to Stade Francais, France
• Zane Kirchner (24 test, 15 points; 82 Super Rugby caps, 105 points; 101 provincial caps 209 points) to Leinster, Ireland
• Wynand Olivier (37 tests, 5 points; 110 Super Rugby caps, 145 points; 72 provincial matches, 130 points) to Montpellier, France


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